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K-12 Textbooks must be digital and open

- April 23, 2019 in communication, featured, guestpost, oer, world

By Werner Westermann

(Versión en Castellano disponible en: El texto escolar será digital y abierto)


Enough is enough!  The issue of K-12 Textbooks in Chile cannot resist any longer.

The straw that breaks the glass was the journalistic research which discovered that 1.7 million public textbooks were burnt  in recycling plants during 2013 to 2016. This incineration of textbooks was ordered by the Ministry of Education MINEDUC, reminded me of those difficult and dark days when books were incinerated during the dictatorship.  

Books burned in Santiago, Chile, days after the Military Coup, September 1973. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_burnings_in_Chile#/media/File:Chile_quema_libros_1973.JPG]

There is a transversal conviction today about the scandal of the K-12 textbook market, and therefore there is an agreement that the conditions that allow it, must change. At least that is what the chilean National Economic Prosecutor’s Office (FNE) thinks, a public entity in charge of maintaining and promoting competitive and fair markets, who has been studying the competitive evolution of the textbook market, covering both the public and private sectors. The problem is well known, but now we have more precise and, unfortunately, unbearable  evidence:

  1. The public market of K-12 textbooks, which are printed books acquired with public resources and distributed by the Ministry of Education, paying publishers a hefty amount of USD $ 52 Million.  This is a highly concentrated market: the average of publishers competing in public bids in the last three years were three, and in more than 45% of the procurement two or less competitors submitted.  Therefore, 80% of the whole public textbook market sales is in hands of two foreign companies, Santillana and SM. It is important to notice that the bidding mechanism, facilitates this kind of monopoly, as it does not facilitate fair competition as the bidder must submit a complete sample of the textbook, which favors the publisher awarded in the previous bid.  In addition, a poor bid framework design has been noticed as it facilitates maintaining the status quo.
  2. The private market, in turn, amounts to US$ 64 Million, but covering only 10% of the whole demand. How is this possible? Simple, the publishers set prices on average 29 times high, and 40 times higher in some cases, in the private bookshops market, as in the state market each textbook normally costs between  at USD$ 1 to $ 2,5. These outrageous uber-competitive profits are possible only due to the collusion between the publishers and schools stakeholders, mainly because of private-subsidised dependence (privately owned schools funded by public resources through a student voucher), forcing the families to acquire textbook through the private market, forcing families to spend in average USD$ 240 per child each year, about half of the minimum wage.

How do we get out of this mess? The study undertaken by the FNE, that will be published late this month, will provide public policy recommendations to allow a better and more transparent functioning of the textbook market. Alongside, the ministry of education is taking the first steps in “digitizing” the K-12 textbook through pilots testing interactive PDF formats and the Techbook, product of Discovery Education, another private publishing company.

So how we avoid textbooks ending in the bonfire?  No doubt, the K-12 Textbooks must be digital and open.

Separate the content from the container

A key reason for the highly concentrated K-12 public textbook market in Chile, is that the public procurement  framework involves the elaboration of the contents, the printing of the texts and their distribution for every bidder. The inclusion of every single element of the book production chain in the bid has favoured the large publishers and, has prevented the participation of other publishers, especially, local publishers, and halting the participation of other actors, such as printing or educational technology companies.

A key solution, would be to separate the educational content from the medium and its distribution in the public procurement processes. In the case of Ecuador, in which this separation has existed for years, whose ministry calls for public bidding for printing rights for textbooks, that are already reviewed and validated by national universities. This has allowed large and small printing companies to participate, achieving a drop in prices where the unit textbook to cost less than half a dollar, resulting in large public (and families) savings.

The current chilean model conceives the textbook only as a standalone printed book, omitting the multiple possibilities that digitalisation of content allows.  Digital educational content facilitates the development of many types of resource outputs, for example, audio-book, content for mobile devices, resources for online courses or  video game, etc. Those flexible possibilities, some of which we cannot even foresee yet due to constant technological progress, are the main reason that educational content should be digital.  The old fashioned way in which textbooks are produced is preventing educational innovation, our students today use a similar educational resource used 40 years ago.

In addition, separating content from the container also ensures the durability of the content, breaking the publisher’s fallacy of having to re-edit  from scratch the textbooks every two or three years in order to update it.Certainly, the K-12 textbook digitalisation, complemented by other resources such as  media and interactive components, opens up multiple opportunities to generate new and innovative ways to enhance and improve learning.

From a public policy perspective, caution must prevail, decision-making must ensure equity, permanent access for all students, and must ensure sustainability, continuity and quality of their development and implementation processes. Is it possible to give a digitised textbook to all our students? A business model based on individual licenses to access a product or service can be of a huge expense, and perhaps more importantly, prevents us from focusing the spending on people and context conditions to ensure effective deployment.  We already have frustrated experiencies related to web platforms not to be repeated, as well as for digital textbooks.

Enlaces, the ICT-programme for K-12 schools (which sadly closed at the end of last year) published in 2013 “Digital School Textbooks” for the Technology subject for 1st to 6th graders. Prior to that, there was no textbook for this subject in the public nor private market. The teachers, many of them recycled from extinct subjects such as Manual Technician or French, had to resort to Argentine texts to guide their work. These digital textbooks actually filled a gap and existing demand and its use was quite successful, thanks to its interactive and graphical instructional design. Unfortunately, these textbooks were removed from MINEDUC last August, as the license to use expired. The textbooks are again accessible for this school year thanks to the renewal of the license, although not the complete textbook, just is a reduced compendium of what it was. And perhaps most sensitive, they are not downloadable, which compromises or rules out the use for the resource in the classroom, because connectivity infrastructure is very limited in chilean schools. Although these textbooks were developed and deployed by public funds, how many more times must we pay to enable access and use of these textbooks?

Publicly funded content, must be public


It sounds redundant, but it is not: the educational content for K-12 textbook acquired by public resources are not public.

Indeed, the direct cause of the private textbook market scandal is intellectual property. The public bid defines that: The author’s rights of the awarded textbooks in public bids will belong entirely to the contracted one, for the effects of free commercialisation in the private market …”  That is to say, the publishers that bid to publish  a textbook to the public procurement process, and then reuse a very similar product to be sold in the private market, pricing it up to 40 times higher than the public price.  An “armed robbery” subsidised by all of chilean taxpayers.

Beyond the flagrant abuse of publishers and their pricing policies in the private market, it is worth asking:  Why are the content copyright of publicly-funded textbooks not public? On the contrary, why are explicitly exclusive to the publishers?  Simply because the public authority says so.

If common sense prevails, the rights of use of the contents of school textbooks acquired with public resources should be public. As Copyright is the by-default legal instrument to guarantee that “all rights are reserved” to the author, other legal tools, such as the Creative Commons licenses, recognise the authorship but grant and guarantee rights for public usufruct. What kind of public usufruct? To modify a resource to adapt it to a specific context, to extend or improve it, to be able to share it by different means and channels, to be able to integrate it into a pre-existing resource, to be able to integrate it into services or commercial products, etc.

Creative Commons licenses are fully compatible with our legislation and there is jurisprudence in this regard since 2006. There are six Creative Commons licensing options that declare different levels of openness (permitted uses), but there is growing consensus that the most favorable licenses for education and, therefore, textbooks are those that grant broad powers (such as Attribution CC-BY), seeking to create a framework that maximises the flexibility of types of uses of resources by users. With these licenses, the school text becomes a Open Educational Resource, a concept coined by UNESCO in 2002 that defines it as

teaching materials, learning or research that are in the public domain or that have been published with an intellectual property license that allows free use, adaptation and distribution.

Flexibility in the use of educational content, enhanced by the permissions granted by open licenses, is a central feature given today’s current and novel uses of our teachers and students.

Openness could have solved the problems of printed textbooks for students with visual disabilities. The visual disability group of parents, Acaluces, filed a legal injunction against MINEDUC because public texbook in Braille or macro-format never arrived. The Court of Appeals of La Serena issued a ruling in late October, ordering the MINEDUC

“to deliver the textbooks for the year 2018 to the students in favour for whom it is used, duly adapted to their special needs”.  

Incredibly, this time sponsored by the Council of Defense of the State, MINEDUC opposed through an appeal to the Supreme Court looking to reverse the first ruling, arguing that “facing a progressive increase of students with total or partial visual impairment integrated to the school system, there has been no increase in resources proportional to that growing demand.”  Luckily, the Supreme Court ratified the sentence, arguing that the MINEDUC

“has not complied with a legal obligation, thus affecting the constitutional guarantee of equality before the law”.

Conceived as a commons or public good, educational resources are also a matter of social justice. The MINEDUC textbook program can not argue lack of resources, its their technical and moral duty to generate the necessary efficiencies to ensure all our students have access to materials that support quality learning.

Opening up to enhance quality

The first one to alert about  to the malicious K-12 textbook market in Chile was the researcher Pablo Ortúzar. His core thesis was that the current vitiated system, both in the public and private markets, is an environment whose competitiveness is focused on reducing printing costs and does not have incentives for the improvement and innovation of the contents of the textbooks.  He proposes that the State should be able to buy the content so that it can be converted into a

“public ownership format with free access”“That is important, it will allow an archive of educational materials open to national and international public scrutiny, which will be enriched over time and that may be very useful for students, families, teachers and researchers.”  

Ortúzar’s approach is perfectly aligned to the proposal that the textbook must be digital and open.  Please, deepen how openness allows educational resources to raise their quality.

The importance of public scrutiny in relation to quality relies in two perspectives: first, as a strategy for continuous and incremental improvement of the educational content, and second, the involvement in that process by the educational community, especially teachers and students. Every quality assurance process involves planned activities such as systematic measurement, comparison with standards, monitoring of processes, all activities associated with loops or information feedback circuits by users / stakeholders / experts.  It is not enough to have a standard (benchmark) and its checklist to determine the quality of an educational resource. Its quality lies in an effective and efficient use satisfying specific educational needs, in specific contexts. Who better than the end users, mainly teachers and students, to feedback the use of an educational resource.

These cycles of adaptation/creation, use, critique and revision by users, thanks to the openness of publicly-licensed educational resources, conforms a virtuous circle that multiplies, diversifying and enhance educational resources, achieving efficiency in return on investment, raising quality and ensuring future sustainability, and above all, positive impact on student learning.

In a higher education Open Textbook project developed at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, it implemented two textbooks in formal courses where students contributed to the creation of one of the textbooks and the critical review of another. It was very interesting to rescue the positive experience for students simply by involving them in the development and free use of an educational resource. They recognized high motivation and commitment for the tasks and role entrusted, felt pride and recognition of contributing to a resource that will be used in future versions of the course, went much deeper into the content treated.  The teachers involved had to necessarily rethink their work, monitoring the activities of the students, redesigning the classroom activities and how to complement them outside the classroom, in short, innovating in their teaching. This led us to translate to Spanish the award-winning book Guide to Making Open Texts with Students to open up new opportunities.

The University of Cape Town, responsible for an extensive research agenda around the Open Educational Resources for developing countries, defines the virtuous cycle of Open Education in the image below. It is this virtuous circle that can mend the injustices of the textbook market in our country and that these resources do contribute to raising the quality of our education.

Optimal Open Education Cycle, ROER4D. https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Proposed-ptimal-Open-Education-cycle-Adapted-from-HodgkinsonWilliams-2014-oWalji_fig1_323304403

We have not mentioned the challenges involved in this paradigm shift in how to conceive the K-12 textbook, many of them quite complex, specially for the State as steward of public interest and public goods. Neither have we mentioned previous successful experiences and others not so much. What technologies can support this virtuous circle of Open Educational Resources? How do I manage media and interactive digital resources related to a printed text? How do I integrate a user’s contribution and how do I manage this new version to contribute to its continuous improvement?  What can we learn from international best practices and experiences?

While awaiting for the FNE’s textbook market study, the alternative solutions will be addressed in a new delivery to specify how the K-12 Textbook in Chile must be digital and open.

Werner Westermann, leads the Civic Education Program at the Library of National Congress of Chile.  He has over 20 years of work experience in digital technology-enabled education and training in different institutions (national ministries, higher education institutions, international agencies, NGO’s). He is an Open Education and Open Educational Resources (OER) advocate and practitioner and a co-writer of the Cape Town Open Education Declaration.  He is the Project lead of OER deployment/development and research projects in Chile. OER Consultant for UNESCO in Open Educational Resources, Institute of Open Leadership fellow (Creative Commons).

Celebrating the Open Web as a route towards a (more) Critical Digital Education

- March 29, 2019 in advisoryboard, communication, featured, guestpost, oer

By Daniel Villar Onrubia

This month it is 30 years (CERN 2019) since Sir Tim Berners-Lee came up with his idea for an ‘information management system’ that effectively set the ground for the hyper-connected world that a considerable part of the global population now live in (thought still not truely worldwide). Originally conceived to facilitate knowledge sharing across scholarly organisations, the World Wide Web (WWW) has quickly permeated all areas of everyday life.

Current discussions around openness in education tend to put a lot of emphasis on copyright and open licensing. Actually, this is the main aspect underpinning most popular definitions of ‘Open Educational Resources’ (OER), a concept that is core to contemporary interpretations of the broader concept of Open Education. Whereas the open licensing of content is indeed a rather topical issue due to the increasingly restrictive nature of copyright legislation and the rather narrow scope of copyright exceptions in many countries, the openness of online infrastructures surely deserves more attention when it comes to discussing teaching and learning in a networked world and open knowledge sharing practices.

This post addresses the value of the Web as an enabler of open knowledge, discusses some important threats and reviews some activities and resources produced as a result of the Open Web for Learning & Teaching Expertise Hub (OWLTEH), an initiative I initiated last year with Lauren Heywood – throughout the 5th cohort of the Mozilla’s Open Leaders Programme – in collaboration with other colleagues from the Disruptive Media Learning Lab and a wider network of contributors.

Openness and the (World Wide) Web

Building on the global infrastructure offered by the Internet, three decades ago Berners-Lee- created a set of protocols and standards that made it possible to easily share and retrieve information by means of a network of hyper-linked documents (CERN n.d.). 

The HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), along with a system of resource identifiers, are the main building blocks of what quickly became arguably the most open medium for distant communication humanity has ever seen.

The World Wide Web is often referred as the Open Web to emphasise how openness is intrinsic to its underpinning principles. First, it was originally conceived as a system to share information publicly, making it available to anyone with access to the Internet for free, unlike closed private network systems such as CompuServe. Second, the Web prompted a new media landscape where consumers of content had also the possibility to become producers, so the restrictions of one-to-many and one-to-one ways of communicating could be subverted to, at least potentially, enable more participatory cultures.

Last, but definitely not least, just a few years after its invention, CERN dedicated all the key Web software components to the Public Domain, applying open licences to subsequent releases and eventually moving to a Copyleft model of licensing (Tim Smith & Flückiger n.d.). Free and open-source software is still a core principle of the main building blocks underpinning the Web these days (e.g. HTML, CSS, SVG):

“The Open Web Platform is the collection of open (royalty-free) technologies which enables the Web. Using the Open Web Platform, everyone has the right to implement a software component of the Web without requiring any approvals or waiving license fees.” (W3C Wiki 2015)

However, there is a growing concern on how discrete online platforms that operate as ‘walled gardens’ are hindering the Open Web. As Dries Buytaert, founder of Drupal, puts it:

We call them “Walled Gardens” because they control the applications, content and media on their platform. Examples include Facebook or Google, which control what content we get to see; or Apple, which restricts us to running approved applications on iOS. This is in contrast to the Open Web, where users have unrestricted access to applications, content and media.” (Buytaert 2015)

A report recently published by the Web Foundation identified the increasing concentration of power in the hands of just a few major global actors as a major threat to the ethos upon which the Web was originally built.

“While the web was created to be a decentralised platform where everyone can contribute and no single creator has a built-in advantage over the other, web activity has become dominated by a shrinking number of powerful companies that are able to wield significant influence over what we see online — and what we don’t. The growing imbalance between individuals and these powerful actors threatens to limit and undermine the power of the free and open web” (Web Foundation 2018)

It is not just the high concentration of visibility and power that is concerning, but also the fact that those actors tend to rely on business models that most often involve tracking and profiling users, who become the actual ‘product’ sold to other corporations that pay for targeted advertisement.

“A future without an open Web is a future of radical fragmentation, one in which people are increasingly isolated from one another, marooned on incompatible digital islands, and beholden to those with the power to determine what everyone reads, studies, watches, and says (and, similarly, who’s allowed to read, study, watch, and speak). It’s a future in which people can’t engage in basic interactions without first releasing details about their identities to multiple stakeholders capable of tracking their activities and tailoring their potential views of the world.” (Behrenshausen 2017)

Learning on/with the Open Web

Instead of starting the OWLTEH journey with a narrow or prescriptive definition of the term ‘Open Web’, we chose to embrace its vagueness and multifaceted nature by encouraging contributors to follow their own interpretations of the term, specifically in the context of teaching and learning. At the same time, we highlighted the importance of openness as part of the underpinning principles of the Web as originally conceived by Berners-Lee (2017): “an open platform that would allow everyone, everywhere to share information, access opportunities, and collaborate across geographic and cultural boundaries.”

Sites like Wikipedia – and the wider family of Wikimedia projects –, Archive.org and repositories of OER are quintessential examples of the Open Web as a resource for learning, open educational practice and reducing gaps re access opportunities to knowledge. They offer ways of finding and sharing knowledge without requiring users to pay – apart from the cost of getting online in the first place – and do not monetise them through targeted advertising either. In addition, by making use of open public licences they can enable not just the consumption of content but also reuse and repurposing in different ways.

Likewise, self-hosted websites and web publishing tools, such as free open source Content Management Systems (e.g. WordPress.org), are often regarded as instances of the Open Web that offer valuable opportunities for learning and knowledge sharing, even though someone will need to cover the cost of web hosting and domain names. Examples of educational institutions providing students and/or educators with web hosting space include the Domain of One’s Own approach, academic blogging platforms or the Prof. Dr. type” of webpage, as defined by Olia Lialina (2010), created in the early days of the web by academics who had access to hosting space from their universities.

Platforms like Twitter or Google HangOut, as well as hosted web publishing services (e.g. WordPress.com), are also often regarded as instances of the open web that can offer valuable opportunities for learning and teaching. The argument for this is that despite commodifying users’ data and their reliance on targeted advertising to offer a “free” service, they can enable educators and learners to publicly share information and engage in distributed conversations.

In this regard, instead of thinking in binary terms (open web vs. closed web), it is important to recognise there are several degrees of openness and even various ways of measuring it as there are diverse possible interpretations of the concept. When thinking of the Open Web for knowledge sharing, some people will prioritise the use of open public licences or the use of open free software, while others might associate openness with the convenience (or only possibility) of having access to tools that can be used to share information and communicate without having to go through a paywall.

As part of OWLTEH, we are building a collaborative catalogue of Open Web instances (e.g. tools, platforms, webs, etc.) that can be particularly valuable for learning and teaching: http://catalogue.owlteh.org

We have also created a collection of short videos with experts sharing their views on the Open Web as well as inspiring examples of its use in educational contexts: http://perspectives.owlteh.org/

 

In addition to those online resources, in October 2018 we hosted a MozFest fringe event along with Jim Groom (Reclaim Hosting) under the theme of ‘Learning on/with the Open Web’ (OWLTEH18). You can find abstracts, photos and recordings here at https://www.conf.owlteh.org/

 

Critical Digital Literacies

Information and media literacy have been traditionally concerned with fostering a critical evaluation of content; what Howard Rheingold calls, borrowing Hemingway’s words, ‘crap detection’. Likewise, due to the heavy influence of Critical Theory in the formation of Media Studies as a field of research, a considerable amount of attention in media education has been paid to power dynamics by focusing on the “analysis and questioning of domination, inequality, societal problems, exploitation in order to advance social struggles and the liberation from domination so that a dominationless, co-operative, participatory society can emerge.” (Fuchs 2011: p.19)

Despite the initial tendency of Digital Literacy frameworks to focus primarily on functional or technical skills (i.e. pushing buttons), other dimensions concerned with the social, cultural, political, economic and ethical implications of technology have gained ground to a considerable extent. For instance, safety and well-being are now a core component of some of the most prominent frameworks (e.g. Jisc Digital Capability, DigComp). And a recent report on Digital Skills for Life and Work published by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development (2017) even explicitly used the notion of critical digital literacy as a “set of specific understandings and a disposition towards the politics of the digital society and digital economy” (p.32).

Approaching digital literacies from a critical perspective requires contextualising practices within the complex ‘political economy’ (Taffel 2014)  of networked societies and, therefore, gaining awareness of what we give away when using online infrastructures in exchange for the possibility of accessing information, communicating and participating within geographically distributed communities. As David Buckingham (2018) warns:

“We are steadily moving towards a situation where the circulation of media is controlled by a very small number of global monopolies. ‘Participatory’ media operate according to a very different business model from that of older ‘mass’ media; but it is vital that we understand how this new data-driven economy works.”

Exploring the Open Web – both as a concept and knowledge infrastructure – offers valuable opportunities for the development of a more critical kind of digital competence, enhancing the ability to engage effectively but also ethically with the current social and technical ecosystem. Moving beyond prescriptive and normative views, to favour dialogue and questioning instead, is essential.

References

 


About the author

Daniel Villar-Onrubia works as Principal Project Lead at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL), an experimental unit at Coventry University (UK) specifically created to drive innovation in teaching and learning. His research focuses on Open Educational Practices (OEP), Internationalisation of the Curriculum (IoC) and Digital Literacies are some of his main areas of interest. After completing his DPhil (PhD) at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), University of Oxford, he joined Coventry University in 2014 as Online International Learning Programme Manager, which allowed him to work at the intersection of online learning and internationalisation. Prior to moving to the UK, he worked at the International University of Andalucia (UNIA), where he was one of the founders of the Digital Practices & Cultures Programme and its Centre for Creation & Experimentation in Digital Content. He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of the Personal Networks & Communities Lab of the University of Seville (Spain). He can be followed as @villaronrubia on Twitter.

Introducing UCL’s Open Education initiative

- August 21, 2018 in communication, featured, guestpost, oer

Guest post by C. Yogeswaran

@OpenUCL  University College London, UK

Founded to “open up university education,” UCL’s OE focus has, since February, been supplanted with new energy and focus. The open education team have been exploring ways to support Connected Curriculum, Education Strategy, and Open Scholarship goals at the institution, facilitating communication between academia and the public and inspiring new ways of undertaking education by removing (economic, geographic, and other) barriers to usage.

To implement open educational practice at UCL, the project takes a three-pronged approach:

  • The launch of a proof-of-concept repository, OpenEd@UCL, dedicated to storing, sharing, and showcasing the university’s teaching materials – both academic and student generated.
  • Developing policy around open education at UCL to ensure it is embedded into community activities – this includes the repository and deposit policy and a planned OE policy, which will be determined through the Open Science Policy Platform.
  • Expanding the practice of open education across UCL through a programme of engagement. Thus far the project has run special interest group meetings, attended by those with an interest in open education, and also a workshop on open education at the recent UCL Open Science Day event. There is now a project website and Twitter feed, @OpenUCL, and we have also featured in two UCL Teaching & Learning newsletters, and internal Week@UCLstaff newsletter.

Sharing OER at UCL

As the project moves into the next phase, we are looking at increasing OER and metadata within the repository, to build a fuller and holistic picture of the teaching materials UCL has to offer, and embed more deeply open education practice at UCL. As London’s ‘Global University,’ we are keen to explore with practitioners how sharing OER can add value to teaching and learning and have wider global reach and impact.

In contacting content providers we have discovered a plethora of OER across UCL which has not been catalogued or brought under one umbrella. Part of this project therefore focuses on working with those who have published OER, to make their resources searchable and discoverable.

Showcasing student content and feedback is also a great way to demonstrate the outcomes of teaching/training, promote courses for prospective students, and engage students in the publishing process, and also encourages collaboration between students and staff.

Engagement activities

In the past six months we have established connections with Arena Open who provide CPD opportunities for teaching staff at UCL, and will be working with them in the new term to run workshops for staff on (a) creating open educational resources and (b) turning pre-existing teaching materials into OER. We will also be present, on a fortnightly basis, at regular research support drop-ins, to talk with UCL staff and create awareness.

Highlighting incentives to publish OER is important in our communication with teaching staff. The Academic Promotions Framework already rewards open behaviours including the publication of open teaching materials, and we are in discussion with the VP for Education about introducing an Open Education commendation at the next UCL Teaching & Learning Awards ceremony. Working with the other research support services we are also looking at ways to formalise the citation and attribution of OER, as professional/reputational growth is an important part of academia.

Learning more

More information about the project is available on the OER website, or you can follow us on Twitter @OpenUCL.

 

About the author

Claudia is the Open Education Project Officer based at UCL Library Services.

Changing Minds by Using Open Data

- June 26, 2018 in communication, data, featured, guestpost, oer

Guest post by

Erdinç Saçan & Robert Schuwer

Fontys University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands


The Greek philosopher Pythagoras once said:

“if you want to multiply joy, then you have to share.”

This also applies to data. Who shares data, gets a multitude of joy – value – in return.

 

ICT is not just about technology – it’s about coming up with solutions to solve problems or to help people, businesses, communities and governments. Developing ICT solutions means working with people to find a solution. Students in Information & Communication Technology learn how to work with databases, analysing data and making dashboards that will help the users to make the right decisions.  Data collections are required for these learning experiences. You can create these data collections (artificially) yourself or use “real” data collections, openly available (like those from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) (https://www.cbs.nl/en-gb))

In education, data is becoming increasingly important, both in policy, management and in the education process itself. The scientific research that supports education is becoming increasingly dependent on data. Data leads to insights that help improve the quality of education (Atenas & Havemann, 2015). But in the current era where a neo-liberal approach of education seems to dominate, the “Bildung” component of education is considered more important than ever. The term Bildung is attributed to Willem van Humboldt (1767-1835). It refers to general evolution of all human qualities, not only acquiring knowledge, but also developing skills for moral judgments and critical thinking.

Study

In (Atenas & Havemann, 2015), several case studies are described where the use of open data contributes to developing the Bildung component of education. To contribute to these cases and eventually extend experiences, a practical study has been conducted. The study had the following research question:

“How can using open data in data analysis learning tasks contribute to the Bildung component of the ICT Bachelor Program of Fontys School of ICT in the Netherlands?”

In the study, an in-depth case study is executed, using an A / B test method. One group of students had a data set with artificial data available, while the other group worked with a set of open data from the municipality of Utrecht. A pre-test and post-test should reveal whether a difference in development of the Bildung component can be measured. Both tests were conducted by a survey. Additionally, some interviews have been conducted afterwards to collect more in-depth information and explanations for the survey results.

For our A/B test, we used three data files from the municipality of Utrecht (a town in the center of the Netherlands, with ~350,000 inhabitants). These were data from all quarters in Utrecht:

  • Crime figures
  • Income
  • Level of Education

(Source: https://utrecht.dataplatform.nl/data)

We assumed, all students had opinions on correlations between these three types of data, e.g. “There is a proportional relation between crime figures and level of education” or “There is an inversely proportional relation between income and level of education”. We wanted to see which opinions students had before they started working with the data and if these opinions were influenced after they had analyzed the data.

A group of 40 students went to work with the data. The group was divided into 20 students who went to work with real data and 20 went to work with ‘fake’ data. Students were emailed with the three data files and the following assignment: “check CSV (Excel) file in the attachment. Please try this to do an analysis. Try to draw a minimum of 1, a maximum of 2 conclusions from it… this can be anything. As long as it leads to a certain conclusion based on the figures.”

In addition, there was also a survey in which we tried to find out how students currently think about correlations between crime, income and educational level. Additionally, some students were interviewed to get some insights into the figures collected by the survey.

 

Results

For the survey, 40 students have been approached. The response consisted of 25 students.

All students indicated that working with real data is more fun, challenging and concrete. It motivates them. Students who worked with fake data did not like this as much. In interviews they indicated that they prefer, for example, to work with cases from companies rather than cases invented by teachers.

In the interviews, the majority of students indicated that by working with real data they have come to a different understanding of crime and the reasons for it. They became aware of the social impact of data and they were triggered to think about social problems. To illustrate, here some responses students gave in interviews

“Before I started working with the data, I had always thought that there was more crime in districts with a low income and less crime in districts with a high income. After I have analyzed the data, I have seen that this is not immediately the case. So my thought about this has indeed changed. It is possible, but it does not necessarily have to be that way.” (M. K.)

“At first, I also thought that there would be more crime in communities with more people with a lower level of education than in communities with more people with a higher level of education. In my opinion, this image has changed in part. I do not think that a high or low level of education is necessarily linked to this, but rather to the situation in which they find themselves. So if you are highly educated, but things are really not going well (no job, poor conditions at home), then the chance of criminality is greater than if someone with a low level of education has a job.” ( A. K.)

“I think it has a lot of influence. You have an image and an opinion beforehand. But the real data either shows the opposite or not. And then you think, “Oh yes, this is it.’. And working with fake data, is not my thing. It has to provide real insights.” (M.D.)

Conclusion

Our experiment provided positive indications that contributing to the Bildung component of education by using open data in data analysis exercises is possible. Next steps to develop are both extending these experiences to larger groups of students and to more topics in the curriculum.

 

References

Atenas, J. & Havemann, L. (2015). Open Data as Open Educational Resources: Towards Transversal Skills and Global Citizenship. Open praxis7(4), 377-389. http://dx.doi.org/10.5944/openpraxis.7.4.233

Atenas, J., & Havemann, L. (Eds.). (2015). Open Data as Open Educational Resources: Case studies of emerging practice. London: Open Knowledge, Open Education Working Group. https://education.okfn.org/handbooks/open-data-as-open-educational-resources/ 


About the authors 

Erdinç Saçan is a Senior Teacher of ICT & Business and the Coordinator of the Minor Digital Marketing @ Fontys University of Applied Sciences, School of ICT in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. He previously worked at Corendon, TradeDoubler and Prijsvrij.nl

 

 

 

Robert Schuwer is Professor Open Educational Resources at Fontys University of Applied Sciences, School of ICT in Eindhoven, the Netherlands and  holds the UNESCO Chair on Open Educational Resources and Their Adoption by Teachers, Learners and Institutions.

Learning Analytics Policy Development

- June 25, 2018 in communication, data, featured, guestpost

Written by Anne-Marie Scott 

The University of Edinburgh has just launched their Principles and Purposes for Learning Analytics.

In order to develop institutional policy on learning analytics, in 2016 we convened a task group reporting to our Senate Learning and Teaching Committee, and our Knowledge Strategy Committee. The task group was convened by Professor Dragan Gasevic, Chair of Learning Analytics and Informatics. The group included Professor Sian Bayne, Assistant Principal Digital Education; representatives from academic Colleges; the Edinburgh University’s Students Association; and representatives from Student Systems and Information Services.

Our Director of Academic Services produced an initial draft of a Learning Analytics policy for review by our institutional task group. It was a relatively detailed policy which covered the following sorts of topics:

  • Definitions
  • Sources of data for learning analytics
  • Sources of data for learning analytics
  • Initiating learning analytics activities
  • Transparency and consent
  • Privacy and access to data
  • Retention and disposal of data
  • Validity and interpretation of data
  • Supporting positive interventions
  • Enabling students to reflect on their learning
  • Supporting staff to make the most of learning analytics
  • Oversight of Learning Analytics activities
  • Other relevant policies

Ethical values, legal obligations and the reasons for engaging with learning analytics were all embedded in the policy, but as we worked on revisions, considered inputs from external sources, and planned how to consult on a draft it became clear that this detailed policy was likely to beg more questions than it answered without being more explicit about our values and our ethical position upfront. We also had to contend with periods of time where there was limited data protection resource available to the task group, and where the legal basis for processing under GDPR that would be available to us was still being debated in the House of Lords.

At the same time as we were developing local policy, colleagues at Edinburgh (Prof Dragan Gasevic and Dr Yi-Shan Tsai) were involved with the EU Sheila project, developing a learning analytics policy development framework for the EU. There were several key outputs from that project that we used in pre-print form to inform our work:

In particular, the group concept mapping activity carried out by the Sheila project (surveying various European Universities) identified that defining objectives for learning analytics was very important, but also very hard (http://sheilaproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/The-state-of-learning-analytics-in-Europe.pdf). As part of our local policy development, myself and Dragan Gasevic met and discussed what we felt were the 6 main purposes for learning analytics in an Edinburgh context, and these were written up into the policy as a means of tackling this issue head-on for Edinburgh.

The literature review on learning analytics adoption that the Sheila project produced also identified various challenges to adoption, and on further consideration I drafted a separate Purposes and Principles document which extracted various of the principles embedded in the detailed policy and responded to many of the challenges and concerns identified in the literature review. Given some of the challenges we were experiencing around clarity on new data protection legislation for resolving areas the more detailed policy, this was the point at which our task group decided to separate the two pieces and start with a consultation on Purposes and Principles only.

The Purposes and Principles were outlined and discussed at Senate in early 2017 and then taken to each School for discussion as part of the consultation plan that Academic Services devised for us. To support this consultation we also developed a webpage that outlined existing research and operational activities in learning analytics at Edinburgh (https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/learning-technology/learning-analytics).

This high-level values-first route proved to be an effective way to start, as consultation with many Schools identified that the level of knowledge and understanding of learning analytics was highly variable across the institution, and that there were significant pockets of concern about ethics and about support for staff and students to make more use of data.

The Sheila project also ran a student survey at Edinburgh during this time period and we were also able to finesse the Principles and Purposes to respond to student concerns and expectations.

In considering how to achieve oversight and governance in the absence of the more detailed policy, and in a potentially quite complex and changing area, we also proposed the establishment of a Learning Analytics Review Group. As we pursue more data-driven operational activities this helps close out an ethical review gap in our operational activities. This governance model is now of interest to colleagues working on institutional data governance activities more generally.

Once the Principles and Purposes were approved, with support from our Data Protection Officer, and more clarity on GDPR we were then able to tidy up the more detailed policy which defines the ‘mechanics’ of how activities can be initiated, what roles and responsibilities exist, what sources of data might be implicated etc. This policy was approved by our Senate Learning and Teaching Committee in May 2018. Importantly, this policy has also been able to link in to other work around data governance within the institution, and formally recognises the role that our institutional ‘Data Stewards’ have to play in the approvals process for learning analytics projects.

Important inputs to the development of policy (as well as the Sheila project inputs) included:

 

About the author


Anne-Marie Scott is Deputy Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services, at the University of Edinburgh. Her background is in the design, management and support for academic IT services, particularly those used to support teaching and learning activities online. Amongst her interests are the use of new media and the open web in teaching and learning, scalable online learning platforms, and learning analytics.

 

Originally published in https://ammienoot.com/brain-fluff/learning-analytics-policy-development/ 

Copyright Reform – CREATe Resources

- June 13, 2018 in communication, copyright, featured

Guest post by Kerry Patterson

CREATe Community Manager

Copyright Reform is a few votes away. The European Union may require those who share news to obtain licences first (permissions against payment). The EU may require platforms to filter content uploaded by users (aimed at music files but also applying to new digital expressions, such as memes and parodies).

Following the adoption of a position of the Council of the European Union on 25 May 2018, the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) will vote on the proposed Copyright Directive on 20 June. It is extremely rare for a later plenary vote to overturn the lead committee’s position. So, the destiny of the controversial directive may be settled shortly. This is an important junction in copyright policy, as the Copyright Directive could be the most far reaching European copyright intervention since the 2001 Information Society Directive.

CREATe is the UK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy, based at the University of Glasgow. The Centre brings together an interdisciplinary team of academics from law, economics, management, computer science, sociology, psychology, ethnography and critical studies. CREATe believes that we can know who is right, and who is wrong. Our resource page [http://www.create.ac.uk/eu-copyright-reform] tracks the progress of the European Commission’s Reform Package through the complex EU process of law making and signposts significant independent scientific research. It also offers a timeline of the policy making process for the Copyright in the Digital Single Market directive, and access to draft documents where they have become available (sometimes as leaks).


Text

Kerry Patterson -CREATe Community Manager

https://www.create.ac.uk 

Images Davide Bonazzi/Copyright User

Adopting Open Textbooks in the UK

- March 27, 2018 in communication, featured, guestpost, oer, OpenTextbooks


By Beatriz de los Arcos

In March of 2017 the Open Education Research (OER) Hub received a small grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to assess whether current US models of open textbook adoption would translate to the UK HE context. In a short space of time we put together under the UK Open Textbook Project a team of interested parties, which included David Kernohan and Viv Rolfe this side of the Atlantic, and David Ernst (Open Textbook Network) and OpenStax on American soil.

The cost of textbooks in the US is massive. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that textbook prices have increased by 88% in the past ten years. The average student enrolling in the 2015-16 academic year had to budget between $1230 and $1390 for textbooks and course materials. To put this in context, a loaf of bread is $2.50 and a pint of milk, 40 cents. That’s over 3000 pints of milk and nearly 500 loaves of bread that you’d need to go without in order to purchase your textbooks (and we all know in bad weather what’s the first thing that goes from supermarket shelves). Seriously though, academic performance is also taking a hit: Student PIRGS says that two thirds of students don’t buy a required textbook because they are too expensive, with cost having a negative impact on which and how many courses they register for. Can you imagine how you would cope in your course without the textbook? Research tells us that earning a poor grade, failing or dropping out would not come as a surprise.

 

The Open Textbook Library defines open textbooks as “textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed. These books can be downloaded for no cost, or printed at low cost”. Because they serve to offset the cost of traditional textbooks, open textbooks have a reason to exist, and the fact that $5 million have been put aside by Congress to fund an open textbook grant program demonstrates that in the US the issue is treated with grave concern. However, is cost a valid argument to adopt open textbooks in the UK? In a recent report on the financial position of students in higher education in England, commissioned by the Department for Education we learn that:

“Compared with the cost of tuition fees, expenditure on direct course costs made up a smaller proportion of full-time students’ participation costs – they spent on average £512 (six per cent of total participation costs) on these items in the 2014/15 academic year. Fulltime students spent the most on computers (£253), followed by printing, photocopying and stationery (£105), then books (£101) and other equipment (£31).” (p. 279)

£101 does not sound like a lot of money, does it? Students in England are delivered a brutal blow by having to pay fees of £9000 a year, not by the amount of money spent on textbooks. It is true that we don’t want to add to their woes and anything we can save them comes as a bonus. What I’d like to highlight here is that if open textbooks are to be adopted in the UK, we need to look beyond cost and sing out loud what we (teachers and students) can do with an open textbook that we can’t do with a traditional textbook. My emphasis in the above definition has to be on “licensed to be freely used, adapted and distributed”.

As part of the work carried out by the UK Open Textbooks Project, the team ran a total of fourteen workshops in eight HE institutions in England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. The aim of these was to raise awareness of open textbooks and to invite participants to review an open textbook from the Open Textbook Library. As it happened, I facilitated workshops in Glasgow Caledonian University, where registration fees are zero pounds, and NUIGalway, where students pay a ‘contribution’ of €3000 per year. Neither of these universities would see cost as the only swinging logic to use an open textbook in the classroom, but both could reasonably buy into the idea of an open textbook as a living creature that can be adapted ad libitum. An open textbook is more than free; it is free with permissions; permission to reorder chapters, localise examples, translate into any language, add content to, delete paragraphs, link to external sources, and more. More. More. Think about it. Ask your students to think about it.

UK Open Textbook Project 

If you do and you’d like our support, get in touch: @UKOpenTextbooks.


About the autor

Beatriz de los Arcos is a researcher in the Institute of Educational Technology at The Open University, UK and Academic Lead for the Global OER Graduate Network. She has worked on a vast range of open education research projects, including OER Research Hub where she led the project’s work on the impact of OER use on teaching and learning in K-12.  Her work has been recognized with an Open Courseware Consortium ACE Award for Research Excellence (2014) and The Open University Engaging Research Award (2015). She can be followed as @celTatis on Twitter.

Illuminating the global OER community with data

- January 29, 2018 in communication, data, featured, guestpost, oer, world

This is the first post of a serie of notes shared by the members of the Open Education Working Group Advisory Board. In this post, Jan Neumann (@trugwaldsaenger ‏) shares the latest news of the OER World Map project

The goal of the OER World Map project is to illuminate the global OER community with meaningful data. It is a structured educational network, which provides a unique identifier for each building block of the OER ecosystem, allowing educational professionals from different disciplines to share their knowledge with hitherto unknown precision and reliability.

Our current focus lies on three main user stories: Connecting OER actors with another, identifying OER sources and providing statistics on OER and Open Education. The underlying data set is extremely flexible and there are so many use cases for it, that it can facilitate interaction and collaboration by scaffolding a wide range of data led activities.

Since being funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 2015, we have solved many practical challenges. Due to the expansive and generalised scope of the project as well as its high complexity we needed time for cautious approaching the right technical and organizational solutions required by the global OER community.

Last year we claimed to have reached adolescence in the sense that the project started to provide value for the community. Now we are happy, that our maturity level proceeded so that full adulthood will be reached in the course of the year. Nevertheless this does not mean that all problems have been solved and the work is done. Rather it means that the platform has evolved so much, that it is now ready to be adopted by the global Open Education Community with significantly increased intensity. The good news is, that we believe to have proven that centralized data collection makes sense and can be done with reasonable effort.

Lately we engaged strongly in supporting the current German OER funding line. For this, we adopted the platform, so that it can model programs and created a country map which shows only regional entries. The country map was integrated in OERinfo – a recently launched site which aims at providing quality information needed to mainstream OER. We also participated in the creation of a UNESCO-Report and the OER Atlas 2017 which are both characterized by the inclusion of quantitative data received from the OER World Map.

We believe that many of the lessons learned can be transferred to other countries. Especially we believe that country maps will be a reasonable way to address local communities and we hope that many maps for other countries will follow soon! Also we learned, that effective data collection works best, when being driven by a professional editor in cooperation with the local OER community. From this point of view we believe, that the OER World Map provides best results when “top-down” and “bottom-up” elements are combined.

At the same time we are continuously improving and expanding our platform: A German translation was provided, a Brazilian Portuguese version is on its way. In addition, our new functionality to set lighthouses and likes as well as the inclusion of OER awards will support users to find high quality initiatives and good practice examples more easily. Last – but by no means least – we are happy to announce that we launched our new landing page just some days ago!

And there are several exciting developments in the pipeline for 2018. Currently we are working on finishing the refactoring of our complete frontend, which will significantly improve the performance of the system as well as its usability. The inclusion of subscriptions and notifications will provide users with regular updates of information relevant for them. Another major milestone will be the inclusion of subcategories for all data types, which will bring browsing and searching to a greater level of granularity.

So what can you do?

  • If you have not done so yet, please register on the map and show that you share our vision of connecting the global OER community.
  • Please make also sure, that your initiative is on the map and share your lessons learned as a story.
  • For research institutes, government agencies or libraries it can be interesting to host a country map.

If you are interested in learning more, please have a look at our latest presentation. We would love to learn what function you would like to see on the World Map. If you do have any ideas, questions or comments, please contact us (info@oerwordmap.org).

 

About the author

Jan L. Neumann is part of our advisory board and is working as Head of Legal Affairs and Organization at the North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Centre (hbz) in Cologne, Germany. He studied law, economy and systems thinking and has more than 15 years of experience within international project management for different publishing houses and libraries. He is a member of the Education Expert Committee of the German Commission for UNESCO and blogs about Open Educational Resources (OER) on OERSYS.org. Since 2013 he manages the OER World Map project, which is funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and aims at providing the most complete and comprehensible picture of the global Open Educational Resources (OER) movement so far. Jan is a frequent speaker at OER conferences and participated in the organization of OERde 14, OERde 15 and OERde 16 Festival. Nevertheless he considers himself a non-expert in OER to stress that having the courage to think by yourself is one important aspect of the empowerment which comes along with open education. He can be followed as @trugwaldsaenger on Twitter.

Educators ask for a better copyright

- January 16, 2018 in communication, copyright, featured, oer

Today we, the OEWG, publish a joint letter initiated by Communia Association for the Public Domain that urgently requests to improve the education exception in the proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (DSM Directive). The letter is supported by 35 organisations representing schools, libraries and non-formal education, and also individual educators and information specialists.

 

In September 2016 the European Commission published its proposal of a DSM Directive that included an education exception that aimed to improve the legal landscape. The technological ages created new possibilities for educational practices. We need copyright law that enables teachers to provide the best education they are capable of and that fits the needs of teachers in the 21st century. The Directive is able to improve copyright.

However, the proposal does not live up to the needs of education. In the letter we explain the changes needed to facilitate the use of copyrighted works in support of education. Education communities need an exception that covers all relevant providers, and which permits a diversity of educational uses of copyrighted content. We listed four main problems with the Commission’s proposal:

 

#1:  A limited exception instead of a mandatory one

The European Commission proposed a mandatory exception, which can be overridden by licenses. As a consequence educational exception will still be different in each Member State. Moreover, educators will need a help from a lawyer to understand what they are allowed to do.

 

#2 Remuneration should not be mandatory

Currently most Member States have exceptions for educational purposes that are completely or largely unremunerated. Mandatory payments will change the situation of those educators (or their institutions), which will have to start paying for materials they are now using for free.

 

#3: Excluding experts

The European Commission’s proposal does not include all important providers of education as only formal educational establishments are covered by the exception. We note that the European lifelong-learning model underlines the value of informal and non-formal education conducted in the workplace. All these are are excluded from the education exception.

 

#4: Closed-door policy

The European Commission’s proposal limits digital uses to secure institutional networks and to the premises of an educational establishment. As a consequence educators will not develop and conduct educational activities in other facilities such as libraries and museums, and they will not be able to use modern means of communication, such as emails and the cloud.

To endorse the letter, send an email to education@communia-associations.org. Do you want to receive updates on the developments around copyright and education, sign up for Communia’s newsletter Copyright Untangled.

 

You can read the full letter below or download the PDF.

 

Educators ask for a better copyright

Joint Letter on the education exception in the proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, 16 January, 2018

Dear MEP,

 

We, educators, teachers, students, vocational trainers, researchers, scientists, librarians, archivists and museum professionals, provide education on a daily basis. We teach, we learn, we create and exchange information for the benefit of European society. We want a copyright framework that enables us to provide modern, innovative education. Education fit for the Europe of the 21st century. Copyright needs to be reshaped in order to facilitate modern education which spans the lives of learners, and takes place in a variety of formal and informal settings, online as well as offline.

 

We strongly support the European Commission’s decision to update the framework of educational exceptions and introduce a new, mandatory exception. Unfortunately, the current proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (DSM proposal) does not meet the needs of educators and educational institutions. On the contrary, it will function as a straitjacket that introduces a fragmented legal landscape and legal uncertainty. It might also mean significant, additional costs for some member states.

 

Instead of supporting a broad lifelong-learning sector that includes in particular adult education and workforce training – the reform will apply only a narrow range of formal establishments. Instead of supporting innovative use of digital communication to extend the mission of educational institutions, it will serve as a barrier to online education. And instead of facilitating use of a broad range of resources available to educators and learners today, it will support an outdated model that limits education to one-size-fits-all, mass-produced textbooks.

 

We would like to bring your attention to the following problems with the Commission’s proposal:

 

#1: A limited exception instead of a mandatory one

Educators should not need to be lawyers to understand what they can and cannot do. We believe in transparency. Educators would benefit from an education exception on which educators can rely across the European Union. Unfortunately, the European Commission’s proposal will maintain the fragmented legal copyright framework when it comes to education as long as licenses can overrule the exception. The consequence of the proposal is that legal uncertainty will be maintained.

 

#2 Remuneration should not be mandatory

Some members of the European Parliament propose mandatory remuneration for educational uses. Currently, 17 member states have exceptions for educational purposes that are completely or largely unremunerated. In these countries educators can use copyrighted works for educational purposes for free. Payments should therefore remain optional and any changes to this model should be subject to consultation with Ministries of Education of all member states.

 

#3: Excluding experts

Learners benefit from receiving education from the best in the field. This is why education provided by educators, librarians, museum professionals and non-formal education providers who relate to the topic of study are incredibly valuable. For instance, 24 million adults take part in non-formal training activities in libraries every year within the European Union. Unfortunately, the European Commission’s proposal does not include all important providers of education as only formal educational establishments are covered by the exception. We note that the European lifelong-learning model underlines the value of informal and non-formal education conducted in the workplace. All these are excluded from the education exception.

 

#4: Closed-door policy

In today’s Europe, educational activities are legitimately provided in many locations and through various means of communication. The consequence of the European Commission’s proposal to limit digital uses to secure institutional networks and to the premises of an educational establishment is that educators will not develop and conduct educational activities in other facilities such as libraries and museums, and they will not be able to use modern means of communication, such as emails and the cloud. All to the detriment of learners.

The future of education determines the future of society

We strongly urge you to avoid the above-mentioned pitfalls by granting a mandatory exception for non-commercial educational purposes that cannot be sidelined by licenses and that cannot be overridden by contract. We need an exception that includes all relevant providers of education and an exception that permits the diversity of educational uses – both digital and analogue – of copyrighted content.

We would like to stress that this is not just a concern to us, educational stakeholders, but to all citizens and society at large. Access to good education is a prerequisite for a thriving knowledge-based economy, and part of European culture. Providing access turns learners into co-creators of education, information and culture. The education exception is an investment needed to enable the advancement of science and innovation. It is an important condition not only to enable the advancement of science and innovation, but for the development of Europe and its societies.

 

We count on your good sense in policy and decision-making as you work to reform the copyright system in the European Union. We therefore urge all to help support access to inclusive, fair education for all in the European Union.

 

Sincerely,

 

Communia Association for the Public Domain

European University Association

Lifelong Learning Platform – European Civil Society for Education

European Digital Learning Network

SPARC Europe

Open Education Working Group, Open Knowledge International

Public Libraries 2020 (PL2020)

Expert Group on Information Law of The European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA)

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

The Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA)

Associazione Italiana Biblioteche (AIB-WEB)

The Association of History and Civics Teachers in the Netherlands (VGN)

European Association of History Teachers (EUROCLIO)

The Slovak Chamber of Teachers (SCT)

Centrum Cyfrowe

Kennisland

ARTEdiem

Platon Schools

Alliance for Open Education

EDUin

Wikimedia Czech Republic

The Academy of Waldorf Pedagogy

Association of Teachers of English of the Czech Republic (AUACR/ATECR)

The Media and Learning Association

Neth-ER – Netherlands house for Education and Research

Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI)

The Center for Public Innovation

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII)

Union of Informaticians in Education (JSI)

Mediawise Society Association in Bucharest

Centrum pro studium vysokého školství (cscš)

SOU Nové Strašecí

The Ecumenical Academy, Prague

AARTKOM s.r.o. Art of Communication

Zakladni Skola Chomutov  

Elisabeth N. Fotiade, Media Literacy Educator and Chair of Mediawise Society

Milan M. Horak, priest and teacher, President of the Ecumenical Academy, Prague, Member of the Czech Christian Academy, Member of the Academy of Waldorf Pedagogy, Czech Republic

Jonathan Mason – Brighton and Sussex Medical School, United Kingdom

Mario Pena – SafeCreative, Spain

FINAL 180115 Communia – Joint Letter – Educators ask for a better copyright

Infographic available here https://www.communia-association.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Infographic_educatorsaskforabettercopyright.pdf 

OpenEdu Policies reports – JRC Research Centre

- January 15, 2018 in communication, featured, oer, Open Policies

By Paul Bacsich   Co-coordinator and policy lead  of the Open Education Working Group

Hot off the press: OpenEdu Policies reports . These reports are the final outcome of one and a half intense years of research into open education policies involving many stakeholders, particularly ministries of education, research and science across Europe. ‘Going Open’ is a report bringing policy recommendations on open education at regional, national and EU levels. ‘Policy Approaches to open education’ is a report covering the 28 EU Member States, presenting case studies about how each country approaches open education policies. Both reports are part of the JRC’s OpenEdu Policies project –

The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission has just published a comprehensive overview report (164 pages) on Policy Approaches to Open Education across all of the 28 EU Member States.

The Foreword to the report, by Yves Punie (Deputy Head of Unit DG JRC Unit Human Capital and Employment) summarises the conclusions as follows: “The diversity of polices and approaches presented herein reflect the diversity that is intrinsic to the European Union. Each Member State has specific goals for education and priority areas to address when formulating its policies. However, this research shows that Member States are aware of open education issues and that in one way or another nearly all of them have implemented some sort of initiative or action plan in relation to open education, even though that goal is not explicit in some cases.” He goes on to describe the report as “another step taken by the European Commission (DG EAC and JRC) to meet Members States’ requirements for more research and evidence on open education in support of policy-making in Europe.”

The work for the overview report was carried out by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in collaboration with the Research Institute for Innovation & Technology in Education (UNIR iTED) at the Universidad Internacional de la Rioja (UNIR) in Logroño, Spain. An international team based in Spain (Daniel Burgos), Italy (Fabio Nascimbeni and Stefania Aceto) and the UK (Javiera Atenas and Paul Bacsich) carried out the work, with assistance from 28 ministry officials and other experts who agreed to be interviewed. The interview work was supported by substantial desk research across all Member States, for which a further large number of experts on open education were consulted, along with outputs from key projects such as OER World Map, OERup!, D-TRANSFORM, ADOERUP (for the European Parliament), POERUP and earlier JRC projects and reports on open education. In particular all identified policies were analysed using the OpenEdu Framework produced by JRC, which identifies six core dimensions of open education (Access, Content, Pedagogy, Recognition, Collaboration and Research) and four transversal dimensions (Strategy, Technology, Quality, Leadership). The report is available at https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/publication/policy-approaches-open-education-case-studies-28-eu-member-states-openedu-policies

The report, together with additional research and expert consultations, forms the basis for the also just released JRC report “Going Open: Policy Recommendations on Open Education in Europe (OpenEdu Policies)”, which highlights policy options to further open up education in Europe. See https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/publication/eur-scientific-and-technical-research-reports/going-open-policy-recommendations-open-education-europe-openedu-policies

Our long report is, we believe, the first one of its kind to bring together at a detailed level policy work in open education for a complete geopolitical region. The team will be happy to explain the methodology to other interested research groups. We can see no reason why the approach, including use of the OpenEdu Framework for analysis, cannot be replicated for other geopolitical groupings such as Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Commonwealth of Nations, La Francophonie and more widely across Europe. Regarding the last, it would perhaps be most immediately useful if funding could be found for those countries in the European Economic Area and the European Neighbourhood to carry out similar work.

Inevitably in such a detailed report, there will be items at the Member State level that get rapidly out of date. Indeed, we hope that such reports as this and the overview reports from JRC will foster an increased climate of policy formation and creation of initiatives at MS level, not only at EU level. As part of its ongoing work, the Open Education Working Group will continue to make its email list and blog available to interested researchers and specifically to encourage them to produce similar and updated material for their countries. For more details see https://blog.okfn.org/2017/08/22/the-open-education-working-group-what-do-we-do-and-what-is-coming-up-next/